2019 has seen the development of the Short Course in Timber Systems Designer.  This has been as a result of the amazing support of the Office of the Victorian Skills Commissioner (VSC), ForestWorks and the group of dedicated nail plate and fabricator representatives working with FTMA.

Whilst this course has been funded by the VSC and the Victorian Government, it will be available to all States and Territories, which is an outstanding outcome for our whole industry.

The course consists of 7 units of competency and doesn’t require the use of any software from the 3 nail plate suppliers which makes it a great entry level course for our industry.  As such it can be used for school leavers, anybody not working in our sector or employees that you want to become skilled in the foundation knowledge required for our industry.

The course content includes, roles and responsibilities of a Timber Systems Designer, Plan Reading, Maths, Terminology, Communication, take offs, awareness of Australian standards and much more.

It is about to be listed on the Victorian funded list and, in conjunction with Timber Training Creswick, the first training will be introduced in the first half of 2020.

ForestWorks has also been assigned the project to review the qualifications and their units of competencies for Certificate II & III in Timber Truss & Frame Design and Manufacture and, Certificate IV in Timber Truss & Frame Design

The Australian Industry Skills Council (AISC) and the Ministers’ priorities requested the following take place:

  • Remove outdated and unnecessary qualifications
  • Ensure the training package meets the Standards for Training Packages 2012 (including AQF alignment)
  • Ensure training providers understand industry’s expectations about how training is delivered
  • Ensure the vocational education and training system supports people to move easily between related occupations
  • Create a more efficient system, through training packages with units of competency that can be used across multiple sectors
  • Increase recognition of skill sets

Without a review in the qualifications, the industry is at risk of losing all funding for training and therefore it was imperative that we work collaboratively towards an outcome that delivered real training and outcomes for employers.

A good example of why AISC was taking this action is the Cert III in Timber Truss & Frame Design and Manufacture.  Nationally enrolments for 2015 to 2018 inclusive were 253, however only 74 people completed the training which is not quite 30% of those enrolled.

A technical advisory committee was convened consisting of the 3 nail plate suppliers, fabricators, training organisations and FTMA to assist ForestWorks in their review and recommendations.

Georgiana, Michelle & Maree from ForestWorks are heading up the project and FTMA organised visits to 5 plants (2 in Victoria and 3 in Queensland).  These visits allowed them to talk directly with the workers on the factory floor, the supervisors, Timber Systems Designers, managers and owners of the businesses to gain an understanding of the job roles that are performed in each area and the training requirements for such.

It was made very clear from the visits and input from most of the Technical Advisory Committee that there were two distinct roles.  The first being a Timber Systems Designer (estimator/detailer) and the second being those in the factory manufacturing the products.  Therefore, it highlighted that to combine the training in to the one Certificate III was wasting valuable time, both for the trainee and the employer.

In manufacturing it was often the case that workers only work in one section and for these workers the whole Certificate III was not suitable.  Therefore, to ensure we covered all workers the TAC felt it was important to have skill sets that still attract funding and deliver training such as:

  • Cutting/sawyers
  • Manufacture timber wall frames
  • Manufacture timber roof trusses
  • Manufacture floor trusses and
  • Storing timber frames or trusses (Yardi)

These five different areas were defined as the different job roles in the factory and therefore particular skill set will have units of competency that are relevant to the roles above. There will also be a cert II in Timber truss or frame manufacturing for those that want to cover all areas and there has been unanimous feedback that the Cert II is very comprehensive and an outstanding foundation for anyone working in the plant.

When it comes to the Timber Systems Designer, we have divided the training in to two parts:

1. New entrant gaining basic knowledge and understanding of role and industry.

The proposal is to have a Certificate II which will incorporate part of the Course in (outlined above) and encompass things like producing documentation from using the relevant engineering design software from one of the three nail plate suppliers. This is a great entry level qualification for new entrants to the industry or someone from the factory floor, providing them with the basic building knowledge and how to produce quotes etc ensuring they can get to work without the head designer spending all their time guiding them.

2. More experienced designers.

For those with experience we are proposing that we retain and review the existing Certificate IV in Timber Truss & Frame Design.

This qualification has no entry requirements as in you may have someone that has been sitting in your design office for the past three years and would like to take the next step in their career pathway and obtain a cert IV which we believe will enable them to provide a better service to your business.

The certificate IV has to have a few changes to make it appealing as the stats show that over the 2015 – 2018 period nationally there were only 22 enrolments and only 5 completions making this very much a course that is not required.

To do this it is proposed that the units of competency will include units from the cert II ensuring the basics are covered such as communication, carry out measurements, take off quantities etc. if these units have already been completed then credit will be given for this. The other units are to be in line with a cert IV level as in interpret designs to prepare timber wall frame or roof truss or floor truss drawings and documents advising on a broad range of timber details using computers, apply building codes, research construction materials etc.

The idea of these types of reviews is to give industry an opportunity to change our training requirements, things change and technology has advanced a long way over the past 10-15 years. The way we operate in the prefabrication business has changed and we need to adapt and cater for these changes, job roles have become distinctive to parts of the day to day running of your business and over the coming years it will change again.

Adapt and change to survive and succeed in whatever you do.

Phil Ladson
FTMA Training Officer